Recently, as the public interest in cannabis has grown so much and four new states legalized marijuana, we discovered a great new website tracking cannabis dispensaries around the country called Dispensary Genie. Here is what we learned when we interviewed them about their project.
As the legalization of cannabis continues to spread across the United States, picking up some should be easier than ever – right? Consumers with all levels of cannabis experience are discovering that finding a place to purchase cannabis legally using other dispensary listing sites can be almost as frustrating as waiting for ‘their dude’ was in the days of prohibition. That is because these sites are often jam-packed with advertisements, fake reviews and lack the perspective visitors are looking for.
Fortunately, we are offering a better way to learn more about dispensaries in your area. Dispensary Genie’s commitment to providing cannabis consumers with an easy to use comprehensive way to learn more about your favorite local dispensaries in a concise and clean format is reflected in our slogan ‘unlimited wishes’. Here you can find essential info like hours and customer requirements (ex: age, recreational, medical card), phone numbers and addresses, as well as the story behind your favorite dispensary. Our fast-loading, easy-to-use site design allows you to conveniently make a call to the dispensary of your choice or get directions with one touch.
Dispensary Genie has more than just the basics. We let you know what to expect when you visit a particular dispensary. You can explore the interior of each cannabis business as well as their underlying philosophy. Some dispensaries are ideal for a quick stop to pick up familiar products while others are best for browsing the variety of products and absorbing the customer experience they have to offer.
In your searches for dispensaries online, you’ve likely noticed they can be inundated with spammy reviews. The volume of these irrelevant messages can make it difficult to get an accurate feel for the establishment. Every review left on Dispensary Genie is from an actual customer – not the business itself, a bot or other malicious actors.
Even if you already have a go-to dispensary, you can use Dispensary Genie to keep your finger on the latest industry news. When CBD products started to become mainstream, we compiled a CBD Gummy Gift Guide, CBD Drops and Tinctures Gift Guide and recently, the best CBD cigarettes of 2021. For those new to cannabis, introduction topics are also covered in a lot of other posts such such as vaping vs smoking, buying from your friend vs buying from a dispensary, your first time trying edibles, and knowing the difference between marijuana and hemp among other topics.
While the directory is rather new, it’s already gaining traction because of the shear wealth of information on marijuana dispensaries that it provides, as well as its presence as an informational resource on the cannabis industry in general. If you haven’t yet heard about it, we suggest you check them out right away and bookmark them as they are sure to become a leading source of cannabis.
Marijuana-infused foods – often called edibles – are becoming more and more popular in states such as Colorado, where recreational marijuana is sold.
In the first quarter of 2014, the first year recreational sales were allowed in Colorado, edibles made up 30 percent of legal sales. By the third quarter of 2016, that grew to 45 percent.
Edibles come in a variety of forms, from candy and baked goods, to trail mix and even coffee or soda.
As a social and behavioral scientist who studies the prevention of adolescent substance initiation and misuse, the legalization of recreational marijuana has been on my mind a lot lately. The younger people are when they start using substances, the greater the risk for developing subsequent neurocognitive, mentalhealth and furthersubstance-related problems.
Marijuana-infused edibles raise a lot of concerns. Young children may accidentally eat edibles meant to look like candy or other foods, and adolescents may not think edibles are as risky as smoking marijuana.
Concerns about edibles
Edibles are manufactured with varying levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. They can take the form of almost any type of food, most notably candy and baked goods.
When products are shaped like candy, there is a concern that children will accidentally ingest them. They may mistake these marijuana-infused products for regular food, as they may not be able to read the labels and markings indicating that the products contain THC, or may not understand what the labels actually mean.
A recent retrospective study examined unintentional exposure to marijuana among children who were treated at a children’s hospital and regional poison center in Colorado between 2009 and 2015, the year after it became legal for recreational marijuana to be sold in the state.
Findings indicated a five-fold increase in the number of children under 10 who were exposed to marijuana, from nine cases in 2009 to 47 cases in 2015. The poison center saw an average increase of 34 percent, while there was an average increase of 19 percent for the rest of the country.
Edibles were implicated in over half of the exposures, which included baked goods, candy, and popcorn products.
Teens may accidentally ingest edibles as well. In these cases, though, the concern is that teens may give edibles to their peers without telling them what is in the product.
Risk perception of edibles is lower
In 2015, only 12.3 percent of high school seniors believed that trying marijuana once or twice was harmful (down from 18.5 percent in 2009). Less than one in three believed smoking marijuana regularly to be harmful, down from 52.4 percent in 2009.
My professional opinion is that marijuana-infused edibles will continue to push down this trend in perceived risk among adolescents, as edibles may appear much less risky than smokable forms. In other words, it is a much shorter leap from not using marijuana at all to eating an edible product to get high, compared to the leap between no use and smoking the drug for the first time through a joint or a bong.
Additionally, edibles make it significantly easier for those who are underage to use marijuana covertly, which may make it more appealing. This could potentially increase frequency of use.
The risk of getting caught using marijuana at home or at school may be lower if an adolescent is eating a cookie or candy infused with THC than smoking the drug. That could make this mode of use appealing for teens who may otherwise abstain out of the fear of repercussions associated with “smelling like pot”.
Recent qualitative research found that that some teens did use edibles in school specifically for this reason. Moreover, some of the females reported that they found edibles appealing because using the drug in this manner made them less likely to appear in public as a “marijuana user”.
How much THC is in that cookie?
Dosing is another concern. Colorado and Washington state have set a limit of 10 milligrams per individual serving, while Oregon and Alaska set a limit of five milligrams for an individual serving. In theory, regulations surrounding dosing in specific milligram increments would be helpful in allowing consumers to self-regulate how much they ingest.
The size of the dose is one issue, but how it is administered is another. If a drug is inhaled, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and then goes to the brain. This is the fastest way of administering a drug.
The slowest mode of administration is ingestion, such as through pills or food. The drug enters the bloodstream through the lining of the stomach and small intestine, and then has to travel to the brain. This means it can take about 30-60 minutes to feel the effects. Eating a product with a drug in it may take even longer, because the body has to digest it as food first before the substance gets into the lining of the stomach.
There are also different types of marijuana, specifically sativa and indica. Sativa has a more stimulating, energetic effect, whereas indica has more of a psychoactive and sedating effect. There are also hybrids of the two, if users are interested in a combination of the different effects.
However, research on marijuana has been limited, so not much has been examined with the different types and different strains, especially among adolescents, making it a challenge to understand the full picture.
Policies regarding edibles
Like all marijuana, cannabis-infused edibles are not regulated by the FDA. At the moment, polices and regulations about edibles are being drafted by states that are voting to legalize recreational marijuana.
The states with the longest history of legalized recreational marijuana, Colorado and Washington, have the most extensive policies surrounding edibles. As problems associated with the recreational use of marijuana have surfaced, these policies have – and continue to – change.
Washington has strict and extensive policies around edibles, including explicit language that needs to be put on labels and packaging. The state also bans images on packaging that would appeal to young children, such as cartoons and toys, as well as edible candy that would be most appealing to young people, such as gummy bears and jelly beans.
California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2016 election.
California’s Prop. 64, the ballot proposition for recreational marijuana restricts edibles with a 10 milligram portion size requirement, and additional requirements that packaging be childproof and, as with other states, not to appeal to children.
Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are drafting legislation to regulate recreational sales of marijuana, including edibles.
Where do we go from here?
As a professional in this field, I understand the desire to offer multiple routes of administration of marijuana, particularly for those who are using it for medical reasons.
However, I believe that edible marijuana, especially in forms that are appealing to young people, is extremely problematic.
Adolescent substance misuse prevention professionals have their work cut out for them, as prevention efforts will have to specifically target marijuana edibles moving forward. Additionally, it is up to policymakers to do everything in their power to make it harder for those who are under 21 to acquire and also consume edible marijuana. This will require a lot of time preparing before the policies go into effect.
We have no political position on cannabis legalization. We study the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana, and its related chemical compounds. Despite claims that cannabis or its extracts relieve all sorts of maladies, the research has been sparse and the results mixed. At the moment, we just don’t know enough about cannabis or its elements to judge how effective it is as a medicine.
What does the available research suggest about medical cannabis, and why do we know so little about it?
What are researchers studying?
While some researchers are investigating smoked or vaporized cannabis most are looking at specific cannabis compounds, called cannabinoids.
From a research standpoint, cannabis is considered a “dirty” drug because it contains hundreds of compounds with poorly understood effects. That’s why researchers tend to focus on just one cannabinoid at a time. Only two plant-based cannabinoids, THC and cannabidiol, have been studied extensively, but there could be others with medical benefits that we don’t know about yet.
THC is the main active component of cannabis. It activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain, causing the “high” associated with cannabis, as well as in the liver, and other parts of the body. The only FDA-approved cannabinoids that doctors can legally prescribe are both lab produced drugs similar to THC. They are prescribed to increase appetite and prevent wasting caused by cancer or AIDS.
Our bodies also produce cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Researchers are creating new drugs that alter their function, to better understand how cannabinoid receptors work. The goal of these studies is to discover treatments that can use the body’s own cannabinoids to treat conditions such as chronic pain and epilepsy, instead of using cannabis itself.
Cannabis is promoted as a treatment for many medical conditions. We’ll take a look at two, chronic pain and epilepsy, to illustrate what we actually know about its medical benefits.
Is it a chronic pain treatment?
Research suggests that some people with chronic pain self-medicate with cannabis. However, there is limited human research on whether cannabis or cannabinoids effectively reduce chronic pain.
Research in people suggest that certain conditions, such as chronic pain caused by nerve injury, may respond to smoked or vaporized cannabis, as well as an FDA-approved THC drug. But, most of these studies rely on subjective self-reported pain ratings, a significant limitation. Only a few controlled clinical trials have been run, so we can’t yet conclude whether cannabis is an effective pain treatment.
An alternative research approach focuses on drug combination therapies, where an experimental cannabinoid drug is combined with an existing drug. For instance, a recent study in mice combined a low dose of a THC-like drug with an aspirin-like drug. The combination blocked nerve-related pain better than either drug alone.
In theory, the advantage to combination drug therapies is that less of each drug is needed, and side effects are reduced. In addition, some people may respond better to one drug ingredient than the other, so the drug combination may work for more people. Similar studies have not yet been run in people.
Well-designed epilepsy studies are badly needed
Despite some sensational news stories and widespread speculation on the internet, the use of cannabis to reduce epileptic seizures is supported more by research in rodents than in people.
In people the evidence is much less clear. There are many anecdotes and surveys about the positive effects of cannabis flowers or extracts for treating epilepsy. But these aren’t the same thing as well-controlled clinical trials, which can tell us which types of seizure, if any, respond positively to cannabinoids and give us stronger predictions about how most people respond.
While CBD has gained interest as a potential treatment for seizures in people, the physiological link between the two is unknown. As with chronic pain, the few clinical studies have been done included very few patients. Studies of larger groups of people can tell us whether only some patients respond positively to CBD.
We also need to know more about the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, what systems they regulate, and how they could be influenced by CBD. For instance, CBD may interact with anti-epileptic drugs in ways we are still learning about. It may also have different effects in a developing brain than in an adult brain. Caution is particularly urged when seeking to medicate children with CBD or cannabis products.
Cannabis research is hard
Well-designed studies are the most effective way for us to understand what medical benefits cannabis may have. But research on cannabis or cannabinoids is particularly difficult.
In order to study cannabis, a researcher must first request permission at the state and federal level. This is followed by a lengthy federal review process involving inspections to ensure high security and detailed record-keeping.
In our labs, even the very small amounts of cannabinoids we need to conduct research in mice are highly scrutinized. This regulatory burden discourages many researchers.
Designing studies can also be a challenge. Many are based on users’ memories of their symptoms and how much cannabis they use. Bias is a limitation of any study that includes self-reports. Furthermore, laboratory-based studies usually include only moderate to heavy users, who are likely to have formed some tolerance to marijuana’s effects and may not reflect the general population. These studies are also limited by using whole cannabis, which contains many cannabinoids, most of which are poorly understood.
Placebo trials can be a challenge because the euphoria associated with cannabis makes it easy to identify, especially at high THC doses. People know when they are high.
Another type of bias, called expectancy bias, is a particular issue with cannabis research. This is the idea that we tend to experience what we expect, based on our previous knowledge. For example, people report feeling more alert after drinking what they are told is regular coffee, even if it is actually decaffeinated. Similarly, research participants may report pain relief after ingesting cannabis, because they believe that cannabis relieves pain.
The best way to overcome expectancy effects is with a balanced placebo design, in which participants are told that they are taking a placebo or varying cannabis dose, regardless of what they actually receive.
Studies should also include objective, biological measures, such as blood levels of THC or CBD, or physiological and sensory measures routinely used in other areas of biomedical research. At the moment, few do this, prioritizing self-reported measures instead.
Cannabis isn’t without risks
Abuse potential is a concern with any drug that affects the brain, and cannabinoids are no exception. Cannabis is somewhat similar to tobacco, in that some people have great difficulty quitting. And like tobacco, cannabis is a natural product that has been selectively bred to have strong effects on the brain and is not without risk.
As more states more states pass medical cannabis or recreational cannabis laws, the number of people with some degree of cannabis use disorder is also likely to increase.
It is too soon to say for certain that the potential benefits of cannabis outweigh the risks. But with restrictions to cannabis (and cannabidiol) loosening at the state level, research is badly needed to get the facts in order.